The headline on boston.com today is: “”Pussy Riot Storms Cambridge Police Department Headquarters After Supporter Arrested”
It was also covered in the other Globe site. It was the second item that came up on the first page of its on-line edition. I write about it to show how the media invents the news by making a non-news event into something.
A guy named Roman Torgovitsky, 38, was arrested for trespassing by the Harvard police. He had been barred from the Harvard campus for having disrupted a concert. He was brought to the Cambridge police station, was booked and released a little over an hour later when he posted $40 bail.
The Globe article told us: “Members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot and their supporters massed at the Cambridge police station after a Harvard speaking engagement Monday night in an attempt to free an arrested protester.” Wow, it must have been quite a gathering.
Later in the article we read “Pussy Riot members were among a crowd of 10 to 15 people who came to the station.” Yes, probably no more than ten people.
How can it be that such few is called a “crowd” or even worse suggesting that they “massed” at any place or to say they “stormed”the station. From all we can tell the two Pussy Riot members, their crew and one or two others probably were the only people there. But you’d never know it from the Globe or from the two Pussy Riot members who like to tweet about themselves.
Included in the piece was a tweet at 10:49 pm from Pussy Riot showing a six people with the notation:
“Now our crew and a big team of Harvard students is at the Cambridge PD HQ till Roman Torgovitsky gets released!”
They then tweet at 12:03 am:
“We’ve just managed to free Roman Torgovitskiy – police released him, woohoo!”
From what I could tell there was a little coverage that Pussy Riot was in town but nothing locally. That is probably as it should be. The young women members of the group protested in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral against Putin but did so in a way disrespectful of the church and Orthodox religion. They were sentenced to prison and released before the Sochi Olympics. They are now travelling around telling us Putin’s evil but the Russian people are good.
I have no trouble with them doing that. I do however feel that by blowing out of proportion their actions outside the lecture hall demeans them as well as makes me question their credibility. There was no “big team” of students; nor did they “manage to free” Torgovitsky. Whether they appeared at the Cambridge police station or not the same result would have come about. These are young women unfamiliar with our values looking for a little publicity. It’s sad they seem to know so little about our society. When they return to Russia they will be able to tell of their heroics in saving their friend from the grasp of the police.
On the other hand, we should expect our news media to report accurately about events that happen. Throughout the matters involving Whitey Bulger we’ve seen that as far as the Globe was concerned that was not the case. We understood the lingering animosity of the Globe toward the Bulgers that made that so.
But here, when nothing really happened out of the ordinary, for the Globe to magnify it into something other than what is was is a disservice to the public. Unfortunately, that seems to be the new trend with the newspaper. Perhaps the truth is to be sacrificed for the sensational.
Just thought I’d point this out. It is a reminder to all of us to read beyond the headlines and to understand what really happened and not what the news media wants us to think what happened.